Zephaniah chapters 1-3 Star Chart: From 612 to 604 B.C. is 8 years or 96° months; from 604 till 597 B.C. is 7 years or 84° months; and from 597 to 586 B.C. is 11 years or 132° months. From 586 to 581 is 5 years or 60° months; from 581 to 570 is 11 years or 132° months. From 604 B.C. to 2026 A.D. is 2629° years which is seven laps plus 109° years more.
Since Zephaniah predicts the destruction of Nineveh (which happened in 612 B.C.) (2:13) we know that his prophecy belongs before 612 B.C. "in the days of Josiah" (1:1) (who reigned from 641-609 B.C.). The Jews' destruction and captivity is represented as very near (1:7) which began a little after the death of Josiah, in the fourth year (604 B.C.) of Jehoiakim (608 to 598 BC). "The LORD hath prepared a (solar fiery) sacrifice (the slaughter of the wicked), he hath bid his guests" (1:7). Those who offered sacrifices invited their friends to partake of the feasts which accompanied them. So here God invites the Babylonians, who were to reap the spoils of the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem, till "I will utterly consume ALL things from off the land, saith the Lord" (1:2). This means, not merely 604 B.C. or 597 B.C., but 586 B.C., "for he shall make even a speedy riddance of ALL them that dwell in the land" (1:18). It also includes Moab and Ammon in 581 B.C. for the murder of the Chaldean governor, Gedaliah (2:4-9); and Egypt and Ethiopia and Phoenicia in 570 B.C. (Jer. 47:1). Then in 2026 A.D. I will "bring you again, even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a praise (Judah) among all people of the earth" (3:20).
Her Prophets and Priests
Have Done Violence to the LAW
1:1 The word of the Lord which came unto Zephaniah the son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hizkiah, in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah.
Josiah reigned b.c. 639–608.
We must, therefore, place this prophecy about the beginning of the reign of Josiah, or from b.c. 640 to b.c. 609. But see the chronological notes.
Between 642 and 611 B.C.
2 I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the Lord.
This means (not merely 604 B.C. or 597 B.C. but), 586 B.C.
3 I will consume (Perseus, Gemini, Argo, Sagittarius, Virgo, Bootes, Centaur, Hercules, Ophiuchus, Aquarius) man and (Taurus, Canis Minor, Argo, Ursa Minor, Sagittarius, Capricorn), beast; I will consume the fowls of the heaven (Cygnus, Aquila), and the (Capricorn) fishes of the sea, and the (lunar and solar) stumbling blocks with the wicked: and I will cut off man from off the land, saith the Lord.
4 I will also stretch out mine hand upon (Gemini) Judah, and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will cut off the remnant of Baal from this place, and the name of the (Gemini) Chemarims with the priests;
The Chemarims - The black-robed priests of different idols. See the note on 2 Kings 23:6. These were put down by Josiah.
in Hosea 10:5 so called, either from the black garments they wore
5 And them (Gemini) that worship the (lunar, solar and stars) host of heaven upon the housetops; and them (Gemini) that worship and that swear (Gemini, Bootes, Perseus, Cepheus, Hercules) by the Lord, and that swear by Malcham;
6 And them that are turned back from the Lord; and those that have not sought the Lord, nor enquired for him.
7 Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord God: for the day of the Lord is at hand: for the Lord hath prepared a (solar) sacrifice, he hath bid his (Zodiac) guests.
The Lord hath prepared a sacrifice - A slaughter of the people.
He hath bid his guests - The Babylonians, to whom he has given a commission to destroy you. In all festivals sacrifices,
1. The victims were offered to God, and their blood poured out before the altar.
2. The people who were invited feasted upon the sacrifice. See on Isaiah 34:6 (note).
8 And it shall come to pass in the day of the Lord's (solar fiery) sacrifice, that I will punish the (Gemini) princes, and the king's (Gemini) children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel.
In 2 Kings 25:7; 2 Kings 25:21, we read of the fulfilling of both these particulars; the sons of King Zedekiah, and the principal officers of the state, being slain by the order of the king of Babylon.
King Zedekiah and the king's children were cruelly massacred at Riblah, when Nebuchadnezzar had taken Jerusalem.
that I will punish the princes, and the king's children; either the children of Josiah, who, though a good prince, his children did evil in the sight of the Lord, and were punished by him: Jehoahaz, after a three months' reign was carried down to Egypt, and died there; Jehoiakim, his elder brother, that succeeded him, rebelling against the king of Babylon, in the fourth year of his reign, fell into his hands, and died, and was buried with the burial of an ass; and Jeconiah his son was carried captive into Babylon, and there remained to the day of his death; and with him were carried the whole royal family, and all the princes, and all the mighty men of valour, 2 Kings 24:14 or else the children of Zedekiah, another son of Josiah, and the last of the kings of Judah, who was carried captive by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, who before his eyes slew his sons, and all the princes of Judah, and then put out his eyes, and bound him in chains, Jeremiah 52:10 and thus this prophecy had its accomplishment:
and all such as are clothed with strange apparel; either which they put on in honour of the idols they worshipped, as Jarchi; so the heathens wore one sort of garments for one idol, and another sort for another; or these were men of a pharisaical cast, who wore garments different from others, that they might be thought to be very holy and religious, which sense is mentioned by Kimchi; or they were such, which he also observes, who, seeing some to have plenty of good clothes, stole them from them, and put them on; or such who arrayed themselves in garments that did not belong to their sex, men put on women's garments, and women clothed themselves with men's, and both strange apparel; or rather this points at such persons, who, in their apparel, imitated the fashions and customs of foreign nations; which probably began with the king's children and courtiers, and were followed by others.
9 In the same day also will I punish all those that leap on the threshold (Perseus, Taurus), which fill their masters' houses with (red radius) violence and deceit.
Used for idolatrous purposes: see Deuteronomy 22:11. There were peculiar vestments belonging to the worship of each idol; hence the command of Jehu, 2 Kings 10:22, Bring forth vestments for all the worshippers of Baal. The text may likewise be explained of such men as wore women’s apparel, and such women as wore that of men, which was contrary to an express law, Deuteronomy 22:5, and was a rite observed in the worship of some idols.
It is most probable that the Philistines are here meant. After the time that Dagon fell before the ark, and his hands were broken off on the threshold of his temple, his worshippers would no more set a foot upon the threshold, but stepped or leaped over it, when they entered into his temple. The Chaldee understands this of the Philistines, without giving this reason for it.
in an idolatrous way, who, when they went into an idol's temple, did not tread upon the threshold, but leaped over it, as the priests of Dagon, after the fall of that idol on the threshold, 1 Samuel 5:4. So the Targum,
"and I will visit all those that walk in the laws (or according to the customs) of the Philistines;''
whose idol Dagon was: but it seems better to interpret it of such, who, seeing houses full of good things, in a rude, bold, insolent manner, thrust themselves, or jumped into them, and took away what they pleased; or when they returned to their masters' houses with their spoil, who set them on, and encouraged them in these practices, leaped over the threshold for joy of what they had got, as Aben Ezra observes;
10 And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord, that there shall be the (red radius) noise of a cry from the (Capricorn) fish gate, and an howling from the second, and a great crashing from the hills.
perhaps the way in which the news came of the irruption of the Chaldean army, the great crashing from the hills.
11 Howl, ye inhabitants of Maktesh, for all the (Gemini) merchant people are cut down; all they (Gemini) that bear (lunar) silver are cut off.
Howl, ye inhabitants of Maktesh,.... The name of a street in Jerusalem, as Aben Ezra
Maktesh - Calmet says this signifies a mortar, or a rock in form of a mortar, and was the name of a quarter of Jerusalem where they hulled rice, corn, etc., according to St. Jerome. Some think the city of Jerusalem is meant, where the inhabitants should be beat and pounded to death as grain is pounded in a mortar.
Newcome translates it, the lower city, and considers it the valley in Jerusalem, which divided the upper from the lower city.
They that bear silver - The merchants, moneychangers, usurers, rich men.
12 And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with (red radius solar and lunar) candles, and punish the (Gemini) men that are settled on their lees: that (red radius line) say in their heart, The Lord will not do good, neither will he do evil.
13 Therefore their goods shall become a booty, and their (red radius) houses a desolation: they shall also build houses, but not inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, but not drink the wine thereof.
13. Therefore their goods shall become a booty, &c.—Fulfilling the prophecy in De 28:30, 39 (compare Am 5:11).
To the Chaldeans.
14 The great day of the Lord is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the Lord: the (Argo or Gemini or Ophiuchus) mighty man shall cry there bitterly.
the taking of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans.
It commenced with the death of the good king Josiah, who was slain by Pharaoh-necho at Megiddo, and continued to the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar.
15 That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of (black Zodiac) darkness and gloominess, a day of (Milky Way) clouds and thick darkness,
16 A day of the (red radius with solar and lunar bell ends) trumpet and alarm against the (red radius) fenced cities, and against the (Milky Way) high towers.
17 And I will bring distress upon (Gemini, Aquarius, Hercules, Ophiuchus, Sagittarius, etc.) men, that they shall walk like blind men (Bootes with a long red cane), because they have sinned against the Lord: and their blood shall be (red radius) poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung.
18 Neither their (lunar) silver nor their (solar) gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord's wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the (solar) fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land.
2:1 Gather yourselves together, yea, gather together, O nation not desired;
2 Before the decree bring forth, before the day pass as the chaff, before the fierce anger of the Lord come upon you, before the day of the Lord's anger come upon you.
3 Seek ye the Lord, all ye (Bootes, Gemini, Argo, Perseus, Cepheus, Sagittarius, Centaur, Virgo) meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness (obedience to Bible), seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord's anger.
4 For Gaza shall be forsaken, and Ashkelon a desolation: they shall drive out Ashdod at the noon day, and Ekron shall be rooted up (570 B.C.).
in the divine judgment, carried their own sentence with them, and this sentence is pronounced by a slight change in the word. Thus 'Azzah' (Gaza,) 'strong' shall be 'Azoobah, desolated;' "Ekron, deep-rooting" , shall "Teaker, be uprooted;" the "Cherethites" (cutters off) shall become (Cheroth) "diggings;" "Chebel, the band" of the sea coast, shall be in another sense "Chebel," an "inheritance" Zephaniah 2:5, Zephaniah 2:7, divided by line to the remnant of Judah; and "Ashdod" (the waster shall be taken in their might, not by craft, nor in the way of robbers, but "driven forth" violently and openly in the "noon-day."
He then foretells the fate of other neighboring and hostile nations: the Philistines, Zephaniah 2:4-7; Moabites and Ammonites, Zephaniah 2:8-11; Ethiopians, Zephaniah 2:12; and Assyrians, Zephaniah 2:13. In the close of the chapter we have a prophecy against Nineveh. These predictions were accomplished chiefly by the conquests of Nebuchadnezzar.Gaza shall be forsaken - This prophecy is against the Philistines. They had been greatly harassed by the kings of Egypt; but were completely ruined by Nebuchadnezzar, who took all Phoenicia from the Egyptians; and about the time of his taking Tyre, devastated all the seignories of the Philistines. This ruin we have seen foretold by the other prophets, and have already remarked its exact fulfillment.
It was smitten by Pharaoh king of Egypt in 570 B.C.; and was laid waste by Nebuchadnezzar, Jeremiah 47:1
Ashkelon a desolation; this was another lordship belonging to the Philistines, that suffered at the same time as Gaza did by Nebuchadnezzar, Jeremiah 47:5.
see Isaiah 20:1,
5 Woe unto the (Gemini) inhabitants of the sea coast, the nation of the Cherethites! the word of the Lord is against you; O Canaan, the land of the Philistines, I will even destroy thee, that there shall be no inhabitant.
The sea-coasts, the nation of the Cherethites - The sea-coasts mean all the country lying on the Mediterranean coast from Egypt to Joppa and Gaza. The Cherethites - the Cretans who were probably a colony of the Phoenicians. See on 1 Samuel 30:14, and Amos 9:7 .
6 And the sea coast shall be dwellings and cottages for (Gemini) shepherds, and folds for (Taurus) flocks.
7 And the coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah; they shall feed thereupon: in the houses of Ashkelon shall they lie down in the evening: for the Lord their God shall visit them, and turn away their captivity.
8 I have heard the reproach of Moab, and the (red radius line) revilings of the (Gemini) children of Ammon, whereby they have reproached my (Gemini) people, and magnified themselves against their border.
I have heard the reproach of Moab, and the revilings of Ammon — These countries were destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, about five years after the destruction of Jerusalem:in 581 B.C.
9 Therefore as I live, saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Surely Moab shall be as Sodom, and the (Gemini) children of Ammon as Gomorrah, even the breeding of nettles, and saltpits, and a perpetual desolation: the residue of my (Gemini) people shall spoil them, and the remnant of my (Gemini) people shall possess them.
10 This shall they have for their pride, because they have reproached and magnified themselves against the (Gemini) people of the Lord of hosts.
11 The Lord will be terrible unto them: for he will famish all the gods of the earth; and (Gemini) men shall worship him, every one from his place, even all the isles of the heathen.
12 Ye (Gemini) Ethiopians also, ye shall be slain by my (red radius) sword (570 B.C.).
ye shall be slain] lit. are the slain of my sword, Isaiah 66:16. Comp. Jeremiah 25:33.
Ye Ethiopians also - Nebuchadnezzar subdued these. See Jeremiah 46:2, Jeremiah 46:9; Ezekiel 30:4, Ezekiel 30:10. See also on Amos 9:7.
Fulfilled when Nebuchadnezzar (God's sword, Isa 10:5) conquered Egypt, with which Ethiopia was closely connected as its ally (Jer 46:2-9; Eze 30:5-9) in 570 B.C.
that is, these Ethiopians should be slain as well as they by the sword of Nebuchadnezzar; which is called the sword of God, because he was an instrument in the hand of God for punishing the nations of the earth. This was fulfilled very probably when Egypt was subdued by Nebuchadnezzar, with whom Ethiopia was confederate, as well as near unto it, Jeremiah 46:1.
But such a blow as that foretold by Jeremiah and Ezekiel must have fallen heavily upon the allies of Egypt. We have no details, for the Egyptians would not, and did not tell of the calamities and disgraces of their country. No one does. Josephus, however, briefly but distinctly says , that after Nebuchadnezzar had in the 23rd year of his reign, the 5th after the destruction of Jerusalem, "reduced into subjection Moab and Ammon, he invaded Egypt, with a view to subdue it," "killed its then king, and having set up another, captured for the second time the Jews in it and carried them to Babylon." The memory of the devastation by Nebuchadnezzar lived on apparently in Egypt, and is a recognized fact among the Muslim historians, who had no interest in the fulfillment of Jewish prophecy, of which it does not appear that they even knew.
Bokht-nasar (Nebuchadnezzar), they say , "made war on the son of Nechas (Necho), slew him and ruined the city of Memphis" and many other cities of Egypt: he carried the inhabitants captive, without leaving one, so that Egypt remained waste forty years without one inhabitant." Another says , The refuge which the king of Egypt granted to the Jews who fled from Nebuchadnezzar brought this war upon it: for he took them under his protection and would not give them up to their enemy. Nebuchadnezzar, in revenge, marched against the king of Egypt and destroyed the country." "One may be certain," says a good authority , "that the conquest of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar was a tradition generally spread in Egypt and questioned by no one."
Ethiopia was then involved, as an ally, and as far as its contingent was concerned, in the war, in which Nebuchadnezzar desolated Egypt for those 40 years. But, although this fulfilled the prophecy of Ezekiel, Isaiah, some sixty years before Zephaniah, prophesied a direct conquest of Ethiopia. I "have given," God says, "Egypt as thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee" Isaiah 43:3.
13 And he will stretch out his hand against the north, and destroy Assyria; and will make Nineveh a desolation (612 B.C.), and dry like a wilderness.
Since Zephaniah predicts the destruction of Nineveh (which happened in 612 B.C.) we know that his prophecy belongs to the first part of the reign of King Josiah.
14 And (Capricorn) flocks shall lie down in the midst of her, all the beasts of the nations: both the (Cygnus) cormorant and the bittern shall lodge in the upper lintels of it; their voice shall sing in the windows; desolation shall be in the thresholds; for he shall uncover the cedar work.
15 This is the rejoicing city that dwelt carelessly, that said in her heart, I am, and there is none beside me: how is she become a desolation, a place for (Capricorn) beasts to lie down in! every one that passeth by her shall hiss, and wag his hand.
3:1 Woe to her that is filthy and polluted (Virgo), to the oppressing city!
2 She (Virgo) obeyed not the voice; she received not correction; she trusted not in the Lord; she drew not near to her God.
3 Her (Gemini) princes within her are (Argo; Leo Minor) roaring lions; her judges are (Centaur and Ursa Minor) evening wolves; they gnaw not the (red radius) bones till the morrow.
4 Her (Gemini) prophets are light and treacherous persons: her (Ophiuchus and Hercules) priests have polluted the sanctuary, they have done violence to the law.
5 The just Lord (Cepheus) is in the midst thereof; he will not do iniquity: every morning doth he bring his judgment to light, he faileth not; but the unjust knoweth no shame.
6 I have cut off the nations: their towers are desolate; I made their streets waste, that none passeth by: their cities are destroyed, so that there is no man, that there is none inhabitant.
7 I said, Surely thou wilt fear me, thou wilt receive instruction; so their dwelling should not be cut off, howsoever I punished them: but they rose early, and corrupted all their doings.
8 Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the Lord, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy.
9 For then will I turn to the (Gemini, etc.) people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent (2026 A.D.).
10 From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my suppliants, even the (Virgo) daughter of my dispersed, shall bring mine (lunar) offering.
11 In that day shalt thou not be ashamed for all thy doings, wherein thou hast transgressed against me: for then I will take away out of the midst of thee them that rejoice in thy pride, and thou shalt no more be haughty because of my holy mountain.
12 I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor (Gemini) people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord.
13 The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall (Ophiuchus, Argo, Gemini, Leo Minor) feed and (Capricorn) lie down, and none shall make them afraid.
14 Sing, O (Virgo) daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O (Virgo) daughter of Jerusalem.
15 The Lord hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy: the king of Israel, even the Lord, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more.
16 In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack.
17 The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.
18 I will gather them that are sorrowful for the solemn assembly, who are of thee, to whom the reproach of it was a burden.
19 Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee (2026 A.D.): and I will save her (Virgo) that halteth, and gather her that was driven out; and I will get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame.
20 At that time will I bring you again (2026A.D.), even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the Lord.